Tucker Lancaster: AFM Round 1 Buttonwillow

I had a great time last weekend March 2-3 at the opening round of the AFM series at Buttonwillow Raceway near Bakersfield, CA. It was nice and sunny all weekend which made for some great racing and FAST lap times! The weekend started out on Friday with a trackday. Right at the beginning of the trackday I was already feeling pretty good. I was riding my backup bike at the beginning of the day and we tried to get it set up as close to my race bike as possible, even though it has different suspension. I was feeling really good on my backup bike, I got down to my previous best time there at a 1:50.8.

On Saturday I got to the track early and signed up for my races. I signed up for 600 Production, 600 Superbike, 750 Production, and 750 Superbike. On Saturday I had about 5 sessions of practice, then they started racing in the afternoon with club races.

I rode my race bike on Saturday; we already had that bike all dialed in for this track from a previous trackday there. Buttonwillow is kind of a hard track to set a bike up for because it is so bumpy. I was feeling really good in my first session, but I was getting really tired and when I came in from the first session I felt kind of sick to my stomach. I decided to just go out there and bust out some quick times, take a break until the afternoon then catch the last session. In my second session I went out there and set one of my fastest lap times of the weekend at a 1:48.9! After I realized how well I was doing, I decided to sign up for the Formula Pacific race which is basically an open race. I was really happy with that time, especially in practice all by myself with no one pushing me! What I did in practice is very good, because it lets me know what the bike will do in a race situation when I am going even faster. I rode a few more sessions on Saturday and made a few small tweaks to the suspension then got to watch some racing at the end of the day. It was cool to see my buddy Gage McAllister, the one that I was battling with on 85’s in Supermoto, out there absolutely dominating and beating all of the experts from the novice grid!

Sunday morning I felt well rested and ready to get out there and kick some butt! I had one short session in the morning and already got down to a 1:50.3 on the cold track. Now I couldn’t wait to get out on to the track and race!

My first race was the 750 Production race. I started on the outside of the front row and got the holeshot! My very first lap was a 1:52 which is pretty fast from a standing start! I was trying to get away from the pack as fast as I could. By the second lap I already had a pretty big gap, and I was doing 1:49’s. On the 4th going through the sweeper called Riverside my bike started acting like it was running out of gas, then it just died. It wouldn’t start back up, I would turn the switch on, then hit the starter button and it wouldn’t do anything. I was super mad!! After having such a big lead, it sucks to have a mechanical like that. When I got back to the pits Mike Pascarella and Eric Dorn from EDR found out that it was a bad battery and it wasn’t able to get charged. They were able to replace the battery and I was able to make to my next race, the 600 Production.

I was starting on the 4th row on the inside in the 600 Production race, and I did not get a good start. I got pinched going into turn one, and I think I actually went back in the pack. When we came around the first lap I was in 8th place, and in this race my first lap was a 1:58, that shows how much I got slowed up on the first lap. On the third lap going into turn one I made the pass into 5th place. On the 4th lap I made the pass for 4th place in the same spot, then going into turn 3 I made the pass for 3rd. Now there was a pretty big gap between myself and 2nd place, and I had 2 more laps to get the job done. On the 5th lap I caught up to 2nd place and passed him. Now I was about 5 seconds back from the leader. There wasn’t enough time to catch up to him, I ended up in 2nd place 2.1 seconds back. I wasn’t real happy with myself, taking so long to pass people, and let the leaders too far ahead.

After lunch I had the Formula Pacific race, AFM’s premier race. I was starting even further back in this race, on the 5th row, grid spot 19. I got a better start in this one and I followed Jeremy Toye into the first turn. I was up to about 9th place when we came out of the 2nd turn. I got by a couple riders on the second lap and was up to 7th place. I was sitting in 7th for about 5 laps turning consistent lap times at low 1:49’s. On the second to last lap going into the last turn I made an inside pass on Dave Stanton. I ran a little bit wide and he got back underneath me. Going into turn one I was able to make the pass, and make it stick. I made a mistake on the last lap, but fortunately he wasn’t there to capitalize on it. I ended the race in 6th place. I was pretty happy with my performance considering all of the FAST guys that are in that class! I was the only 600 rider to go down to a 1:48 which was only 1 second off the top time for the 1000’s! Check out this mention about the race on Road Racing World’s website: http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/corey-lancaster-start-2013-afm-season-off-with-wins-at-buttonwillow/

My next race was 600 Superbike. I started on grid spot #7 on the outside of row 2. I didn’t get a very good start, the starter held us there for a while, and my clutch must have gotten really hot. When I went to let my clutch out it didn’t disengage where I am used to it disengaging. I was in about 3rd place going into the first turn. I was taking my time passing guys, not taking as big of chances because I knew that my biggest competition had crashed out on the warm up lap. I got around 2nd place going into turn 2 on the second lap. I caught up to 1st place and passed him going into turn 1 on the third lap. After that, I started to pull away from the pack. My clutch had no slack in it which made my down shifts kind of difficult, and the clutch was slipping a lot. I was focusing on making my downshifts and making it into the turns safely. If I blew a turn it would let the riders behind me catch up. I ended the race in 1st place with a 7 second lead over 2nd place!

My last race of the weekend was the 750 superbike. I was starting from the second row and got a great start and got the holeshot! Luckily we were able to put a little slack in the clutch, so it was working a lot better! After the start I was gone! No one was anywhere close to me, I was once again having to concentrate on my downshifts, I think we took out a little too much slack in the clutch. It was a pretty boring race with no competition. I won the race by almost 11 seconds over 2nd place!

I had a great weekend at Buttonwillow raceway, and it was great to be in the same paddock as some of my old racing friends! I am planning on going back to Georgia for the first WERA National on March 15th-17th at Roebling Raceway. I can’t wait to get back there and contend for a National Championship!

Thank you to all of my sponsors for helping me out this year: My mom and dad, Mike Pascarella, CT Racing, Pirelli, Jason Pridmore’s STAR School, EDR Performance, Pacific Track Time, Regina Chain, Motorex, KFG Suspension, GP Suspension, Riders Discount, FMF, Drippin Wet, Hot Bodies, Cycle Gear, GPR steering stabilizers, ODI, Zero Gravity, Arnette, Cortech, Vesrah.


Tucker Lancaster 408

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